South County Beat: School kids cheer on veteran riders

Four years ago, Oceano Elementary School teacher Jim DeCecco was reading Bicycling Magazine when he came across an advertisement for a program that uses cycling to help injured veterans rehabilitate physically and mentally.

The Ride 2 Recovery program offers several bike rides, including a multi-day event down California’s coast. DeCecco, who commutes to work by bike, contacted Ride 2 Recovery President John Wordin and learned the riders would head down Highway 1, through Pismo Beach and Oceano.

After a few more calls, DeCecco lined up Oceano and Shell Beach elementary students to cheer for about 85 veterans. The following year, the students waved at 120 riders.

In the past two years, the ride has grown to 200 veterans, and the Oceano and Shell Beach elementary students’ support has become a tradition.

School officials build some activities around the event. Students will wear red, white and blue, make posters and attend an assembly where they’ll listen to a few veterans talk about their service in Iraq or Afghanistan, with an emphasis on overcoming obstacles through hard work and perseverance.

“We appreciate them for fighting for our rights,” said sixth-grade student Fernando Cervantes, who has watched the veterans ride by several times. Cervantes, 11, is also a member of the school’s Bike Posse, where staff members occasionally lead bike rides to Doc Burnstein’s in Arroyo Grande for ice cream.

The Ride 2 Recovery cyclists will leave San Francisco on Sunday and wind 450 miles down the coast. They’re expected to ride through downtown San Luis Obispo after 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 and will head to dinner in Arroyo Grande, sponsored by the Kiwanis of Greater Pismo Beach.

They’ll ride through Oceano — where 460 Oceano Elementary students will be waiting for them along Highway 1 — and on toward Solvang on Oct. 6.

County residents can help the Kiwanis Club pay for the dinner by mailing a $10 check to “Fitness Challenge Foundation,” P.O. Box 764, Pismo Beach, CA 93448. DeCecco advises donors to include a short note that will be delivered to soldiers along with their meals.

For information, visit www.ride2recovery.com or call 556-0226.

Another chance to give

Local residents can raise money for youth scholarships and support local families in need by participating in the Nipomo Youth Coalition’s 14th Annual Fun Run on Oct. 8 at the Nipomo Regional Park softball fields.

Events include a 4-mile race, 2-mile walk and ½-mile kids run. Participants can preregister at the Nipomo Family Resource Center at Dana Elementary School, 920 W. Tefft St.

Day-of registration will be held from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.; a raffle starts at 8:30 a.m. and the run starts at 9 a.m.

Those wanting to sponsor or donate a raffle prize should call 473-5560.

Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.